Monday, August 30, 2010

Food Inc.

Several months ago, I rented Food, Inc. because some friends recommended it to me. The movie highlights how poor America's diet is and how much of our food supply is monopolized by a handful of large corporate producers. I enjoyed this documentary even though much of the subject matter was very disturbing.

I'm the furthest thing from a PETA sympathizer, but after seeing the conditions that animals are raised in and the slaughter house procedures, I lost my appetite and will probably never look at a hamburger the same way again. This film did not convert me into a vegetarian, but I feel more informed now and am much more open minded about organic foods.

What I found most disturbing about the movie, was the legal bullying of farmers over the issue of genetically modified seeds and food patents. I don't think this film is as blatant as a Michael Moore "documentary" although it did paint most of the food giants in a negative light. I think the filmmaker was trying to open people's eyes and educate them about their diet more than he was trying to vilify the food industry.

Some might come away watching this movie paranoid and scared. I don't blindly accept every message in a movie just because it is a documentary, but Food, Inc. is thought provoking and very enlightening. You should see it and decide for yourself. I think you'll like the film and it will cause you to think twice about the food you eat (at least for a couple days). I give it it 8 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cross Fit

One of the fastest growing movements in fitness is CrossFit. For those of you not familiar with Cross Fit, it focuses on functional fitness. It favors compound movements, plyometrics, and Olympic lifts. It emphasizes 10 different areas of fitness which include: strength, flexibility, speed, power, cardiovascular endurance, stamina, agility, balance, accuracy, and coordination. Competitors are timed as they complete a series of intense exercises.

You typically won't see any weight lifting machines in a CrossFit gym. They do not focus on isolating a single muscle with an exercise, but rather on exercises that work the entire body. The common tools of the trade are kettlebells, barbells, ropes, pull up bars, plyo boxes, giant tires, etc.

I was originally critical that this type of training didn't places enough emphasis on cardiovascular endurance, but when I tried it myself and realized there is no rest period between the different exercises I changed my mind. This can really get your heart pumping. Some of the exercises are things you may have only seen gymnasts do in the past, like doing dips with Olympic rings. I'll admit this type of training is much more intense than most people's workout who work with free weights or machines at the gym and rest between each exercise. I thought I would include a couple videos to show you how intense these workouts can be.

CrossFit participants and traditional bodybuilders have often been critical of each other. This might be expected since they are training in different ways and are looking for different results. Regardless of their differences, or what any critics might say, I think Cross Fit is a good trend for the fitness industry since many people are trying something new and getting into better shape.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Serious Strength

I was recently skimming through YouTube and came across a couple clips that impressed me. The first one is Tony Horton of P90X fame working out at the beach. Pretty impressive for a guy his age. I got exhausted just watching him. Sorry for the "music" that accompanies each clip. The first song has ridiculous ugly lyrics and the second clip has rap music in the background that is laced with F bombs. I suggest you turn your volume down when you watch it since it is all visual anyway.

I know there are guys from Norway with no necks who can pull buses and throw pianos, but I haven't seen this kind of freaky strength before. I'm not sure who this dude is, but I have never seen such ridiculous strength! Take a look.

I was considering posting a video of me doing pushups, but that would be too ant-climactic after watching these.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Conflicting Information

It seems that the more I study about fitness and nutrition, the more confused I get. Goethe stated this more eloquently when he wrote "We know accurately only when we know little; with knowledge, doubt increases." Every other month you can find a new study that disproves something that you had previously believed. Then, down the road the experts change their position back again. I can't blame people for being confused when it comes to health. This frustrates me because truth should not fluctuate like the stock market.

Maybe you've heard some of the controversy about the following topics: stretching, slow repetitions, protein consumption, proper macronutrient percentages in your diet, herbs, supplements, the benefits or dangers of red wine, alcohol, or aspirin, etc. Some studies show something is beneficial while others disprove it. Time Magazine even came out with an article last year trying to prove that exercise can be bad for you! There seem to be differing opinions on almost any topic when it comes to your health.

Years ago I was reading the August 2001 issue of Muscle and Fitness Magazine. It was a special issue which featured advice from all 10 of the Mr. Olympia champions who had achieved that honor at that time. I fully expected each competitor to have his training preferences, but I was surprised when I saw how much they contradicted each other with their advice and training recommendations. These guys should be the ultimate authorities on bodybuilding, since they had each reached the pinnacle of success in their industry, but they disagree on many things. So if the pros and experts can't even agree on their training and workout advice, how can we?

One problem with this topic is that some people believe anything they read or hear. If there is an infomercial with a guy in a white lab coat promoting an exercise device or supplement, people will assume whatever he says is legitimate. There is a ton of inaccurate or completely deceptive advertising on TV, radio, fitness magazines, and the Internet. Even legitimate scientific experiments and studies can contradict each other and be manipulated by those reporting them if they don't disclose all the variables associated with the study. It is important to get all the facts when you hear about the findings of a new study. It is easy to jump to conclusions without all the background details that are needed to make an informed decision.

Don't be surprised the next time you hear about a new study that disproves something you have always believed or goes against the advice of another expert. I encourage you to be a fact finder and a truth seeker. You may have to sift through a lot of fluff to find the truth, but it is worth it. Once you are able to determine what is and is not accurate, it is very liberating. I guess that's why they say the truth will set you free.